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Showplace on Sprinkle Road

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Members of the Kalamazoo Master Garden Association gather on the lawn of Marilyn Pagels home to tour her extensive gardens. Pagels is third from the right.

By Sue Moore

In soil that cuts like butter, Marilyn Pagels grows a flower garden that is a showplace for tours and anyone just driving by. The Kalamazoo County Master Garden Association planned their annual tour in July, to stop at her garden at 10143 Sprinkle Road, in Vicksburg because it is so unique.

Besides plants, the garden features repurposed items from Goodwill and the Salvation Army, along with gifts from friends and found items on family trips. The already knowledgeable Master gardeners found delight in the ceramic items placed throughout, such as dinner plates, lampshade globes, figurines, bird baths, and many more wrought iron artifacts, Pagels said.

Upon closer inspection, they discovered many different varieties of plants, all of which Pagels can remember where they were sourced, who gave them to her or where she purchased them. She has been active with the Victorian Garden Club in Vicksburg, lending her design talents to many of their gatherings.

The first challenge that Pagels faced when she and husband Ed purchased the Richardson centennial property in 2001 where the huge shade trees that circled the 1862 Itallianate home. One maple tree has been deemed to be approximately 300 years old. They have placed cable and steel rods in it to keep from losing the entire tree that has been damaged repeatedly by storms.   The second challenge to propagating a flower garden was the heavy shade. That meant a big emphasis on planting hostas, ferns, begonias, and astilbe, and possibly the reason for livening it up with decorative items.

Once she dug up the gravel driveway and rejuvenated the soil there, the rest of the yard just began to blossom with her deft touch. She has lots of family heirloom plants, including lilacs, antique roses, iris and sweet peas. There are four rain gardens that are refreshed every day to keep bugs and mosquitos from taking over the property. She designed a rabbit garden with ferns and a secret garden where she can go to get away from the highway noise on Sprinkle Road. She gathers rocks out of the nearby fields, ferns from the marsh, and even treasures from dump sites.

Pagels welcomes visitors to her yard all summer long. They are building a new house in back of the shade gardens, which when finished, will surely expose her new gardens to sunshine as there are precious few trees in its landscape.

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